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Breaking Bad appears, disappears from new NZ download service

"Take my money!" No, wait.

Sat, 07 Sep 2013

UPDATE Sept 7: Another example that online content restrictions are all about protecting old-world geographic distribution monopolies, not copyright:

EzyFlix expanded across the Tasman this week.

I got excited when I spied the prelaunch site, particularly the inclusion of the hot TV series Breaking Bad (iTunes NZ offers no TV series, and the quality shows you find on Sky TV's Soho - including Breaking Bad - are entirely absent from other services).

It seemed an over-the-top provider had finally to take a bite out of Sky TV's monopoly.

When Ezyflix CEO Craig White visited NBR Towers a couple of days before the NZ version of the site went live, I raved about the unexpected presence of Breaking Bad. Mr White said sorry, but Breaking Bad and some other Exyflix Australia content won't be available on this side of the Tasman. Further deals were pending with Sony and Universal, but some content would always be tricky (read: premium series where Sky TV has the rights wrapped up).

Come launch day - Thursday - Breaking Bad was present on the NZ site. NBR bought an epiode.

So did Auckland woman Siobhan Keogh.

"What's that, Ezyflix? You have Breaking Bad available for New Zealand less than a day after US? Shut up and take my money!," she tweeted.

Sadly, it looks like it was all a technical blunder. Or maybe someone complained. For yesterday, Breaking Bad suddenly disappeared from EzyFlix NZ.

Norman transmission has been restored. Now, if Ms Keogh wants to watch the latest episodes of the series, she can buy a full Sky TV subscription, join geoblock-busting Slingshot, do a little grey downloading, or hit the Torrents ...

Aussie movie, TV download service expands to NZ

Sept 5: Another online content player has entered the NZ market.

EzyFlix, which launched in Australia a fortnight ago, offers movies and TV series for streaming or download. Its NZ site opened for business today.

Content is available in 720p high definition for downloads, with adapative technology used for streaming.

CEO and majority owner Craig White tells NBR ONLINE the service has 2000 movies (most around $6.99) and a number of A-list TV shows on offer ($2.99 an episode).

Not all have made it across the Tasman.

Deals still have to be finalised with Sony and Universal for NZ. Beyond those two biggies, all the majors are onboard bar HBO (which some would see as the jewel in the paid content crown; Sky TV has its content exclusive to its Soho channel in this part of the world). There's no sports content at launch, and no immediate plans to add any.

Mr White wasn't sure if signature EzyFlix Australia show Breaking Bad would make it to the NZ store for launch when he visited NBR earlier this week, but four of the latest episodes have appeared today (unlike iTunes in most countries outside NZ, previous series aren't available, or at least not yet). Episodes will screen within 24 hours of screening in the US.

Fingers-crossed EzyFlix will be able to further flesh out its content.

Certainly, Mr White knows the biz. Before setting up EzyFlix his prior roles included sales director for 20th Century Fox Australia, wrangling a $A250 million budget. Like former QuickFlix CEO Chis Taylor (the one-time head of Sky TV's Prime channel), he knows the ins-and-outs of the arcane world of content contracts and content windows.

iTunes Australia offers movies and TV series for download or steaming. iTunes NZ offers only movies (though some Kiwis make a virtual hop across the Tasman to access the Aussie version).

EzyFlix doesn't have rival QuckFlix array of viewing options, which include partnerships with a number of smart TV and console makers, but is in negotiations.

And if you want to watch its content on a regular television, you'll have to make your own arrangements. 

EzyFlyx has Android and iOS (iPad, iPhone) apps, but Mr White complains that Apple spikes any app from its AppStore that supports AirPlay (Apple's one-click feature to mirror content from a MacBook or iPad to your TV, if $149 Apple TV wi-fi box is attached). If your app incorporates support for AirPlay, it won't get approved by Apple, Mr White claims.

On the plus side, the CEO says EzyFlix content can be downloaded or streamed to a wider variety of devices than iTunes content. 

And a nifty feature lets you tap the UltraViolet service to access your EzyFlix content from the cloud, or share it with up to five other users.

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Breaking Bad appears, disappears from new NZ download service